Soup season is almost upon us. But before you immediately reach for that chicken noodle recipe you inherited from Mom, hear us out: Vegetable soup can be just as hearty and soul-warming as any meat-based one. This freekeh vegetable soup from Adeena Sussman’s new cookbook, Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen, is proof.
“It’s not all palm trees and hot beaches,” writes Sussman, whom you might know from her work on Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks. “Tel Aviv has a winter, too, bringing hard rain and strong winds that practically make you beg for a bowl of soup. Freekeh adds both body and flavor to this one.”
Not familiar with freekeh? “In Arab communities,” she continues, “prized young green wheat is picked and dried in the field over wood to create freekeh (pronounced “freaky” in Israel), a beguiling grain that can be used a million ways.” If you’ve never tasted the heirloom grain yourself, it’s nutty, slightly smoky and packed with satisfying protein and fiber.
“If you throw in a little extra,” she says, “its starch makes the soup grow thick, so one minute you have a normal broth and the next you’re looking at almost porridge…but in the best possible way. The freekeh adds just a wisp of smoky flavor, as though a blown-out match had passed through each spoonful for a second.”
Is it fall yet? Because we’re officially ready.
Reprinted from Sababa by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019, Adeena Sussman.
1 cup freekeh (cracked or whole)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, diced
1 medium kohlrabi, rind and tough outer membranes peeled off, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if needed
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 Parmesan rind or 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh za’atar or oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Chopped fresh herbs (za’atar, parsley, chives or scallions), for garnish
1. Place the freekeh in a medium bowl, cover with cold water and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large 4- or 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the kohlrabi and carrots and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes; season generously with salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
3. Drain the freekeh, rinse it with cold water and add it to the saucepan. Add the broth, zucchini, Parmesan rind (if using), za’atar, salt and the cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the soup is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you’re using whole freekeh instead of cracked freekeh).
4. Remove the Parmesan rind, season with more salt and black pepper to taste, divide among bowls, garnish with herbs and drizzle with olive oil.